The word flexibility had a whole new meaning to me once I was called and set apart as the new Institute teacher at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The LDS Institute class teaches about the Bible, Mormonism and theology.
The age range for the Institute class is quite vast, from college to young and older adults. Coming from teaching a class of mainly teenagers (high school students attend the Seminary class), I had to make a huge adjustment since the students that I’m about to handle were older (18 years old and beyond) and more mature on so many phases and degrees.
The Institute curriculum also delves with deeper doctrines, hence, more in-depth discussions are being done. It was – and still is – a lot of work to teach a multi-grade class but regular assessments and being able to differentiate my teaching approaches, even making use of more versatile groupings, did create an impact on how the students absorbed the lessons.
Teaching a multigrade class challenged me in so many ways as this is no longer just following and delivering a concrete curriculum. Here, more research is involved so that every student’s learning needs are addressed.
What helped me cope during this transition are the monthly FAs (faculty meetings) and teacher training. Through these, I eventually differentiated mediums of instruction which suited the abilities of the students. I also became more sensitive to students who needed more help with their lessons, thus, ascertaining that every single student was able to move forward with the lesson.
Ability vs. Age
Becoming a multigrade teacher also opened my eyes to the fact that educators have to look at the abilities instead of the age of their students. This allowed me to step back and reassess my teaching methods and whether they are meeting the learning requirements of my students.
The church was quite supportive in their advocacy to make the curriculum learner-based rather than the curricula of the past where lessons were spoon-fed to the students. Now, there is no single standard when it comes to teaching. Institute and Seminary teachers have the leeway to develop and deliver lessons so long as they are able to convey the scriptural messages suggested in the manuals.
U.P. and My Institute Class
Now that I’m enrolled in a class that’s supposed to teach me how I can conduct Multigrade classes, I’m actually stoked. There is so much more that I need to learn to improve the way I handle my class. Now, I understand that I’m no longer just teaching a group of young and older adults but a class that has students with different talents and intelligences; a group that is actually much yearning for spiritual and practical knowledge.